Riding Blog

This weblog at mikeuhl.com is the personal web site of Michael "Mike" Uhl. Entries to this weblog and web site represent my personal opinions. The site is not owned, operated, or affiliated with my employer or any organizations other than those owned and operated by Mike Uhl.

Photo (right): That's Lisa and me stopped along US 550, "The Million Dollar Highway," in southwest Colorado on our way north into Silverton, July 2017. 

Entries are copyright (c) Michael A. Uhl, as of date of posting.

You are welcome and encouraged to participate in the discussion on this site. Comments are owned by the poster. I reserve the right to remove any irrelevant, inflammatory, or otherwise inappropriate comments. Questions may be directed to me using the "Post a Comment" feature available on every blog page.

FYI: I ride a 2015 Harley-Davidson FLHTK Ultra Limited Special Edition.

Thank you and please enjoy my site!


Lost City, West Virginia

(September 8, 2015) Over the Labor Day weekend I rode my new Harley to Allegany* State Park in southwest New York State. I also decided to take advantage of my new bike's extraordinary comfort and GPS system, and the long holiday weekend to visit the Flight 93 National Memorial, which is near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.** 

Given the out-of-the-way location of this memorial and that of my ultimate destination for the day, Allegany State Park, I chose an out-of-the-way route to reach both places. After a short segment of Interstate 81, I got off at exit 257 and took Virginia route 259 through the town of Broadway. VA 259 led me to West Virginia route 259 and that led me to the hamlet of Lost City.

As I passed the post office, I quickly decided that it was worth a second look and a photo. A few hundred yards down the road, I did a three-point turn and headed back into town.

This is the smallest US Post Office I have ever seen. I challenge you to offer a photo of one smaller! This is the kind of experience that makes taking the road-less-traveled worth it. According to the Wikipedia entry, this post office has been in operation since 1892.

From Lost City, WV to Berlin, PA

When I reached Keyser, WV, I remembered why I love interstate highways so much: it was painfully slow getting through this town.

On the other hand, I enjoyed crossing the North Branch Potomac River. I'm a geography nut and I love encountering important rivers. This particular section creates a winding border between West Virginia and Maryland that gives the former a nub, or panhandle, that juts into Maryland.

At the northern-most point in this West Virginia panhandle, Maryland narrows to less than 10 miles wide as it borders with Pennsylvania in what it called Western Maryland. Take a look at a Maryland sometime and notice how it divides into three distinct regions: the Atlantic coast, the Washington, D.C. part, and the western, mountainous region.

I continued on WV 259 to Baker and turned west on US 48. At Moorefiled, I turned on to US 220 north--though technically I would guess it's east since even-numbered Federal routes are east-west. I followed 220 to Cresaptown, MD where I used MD 53 as a shortcut to Interstate 68, west. After a short ride I got off at exit 29 and headed north on MD 546, Finzel Road. At the PA state line it became Greenville Road.

This is a remote part of Maryland and Pennsylvania. When trying to follow McKenzie Hollow Road off of Greenville Road, I found myself on pavement that wasn't even on my GPS map. It appeared as if I was floating in a green field on the electronic map. That's a sign that maybe a reconsideration of your last turn is in order! I turned around found McKenzie Hollow Road.

The beauty of traveling alone is the absence of anyone bitching at me for missing a turn or getting a little lost now and then.

After a left onto PA 160, I was on my way to Berlin, PA and a much clearer path to the Flight 93 National Memorial. I'll write about that experience in my next post.

Keep the shiny side up!

-The Long Rider


*For reasons unknown to me, the state of New York decided to spell the name of this park differently than we spell the river and Native American tribe names on which it is sourced.

**Actually, it doesn't really seem to be located close to any town.


National D-Day Memorial

(August 23, 2015) My friend Mike Russo and I took advantage of a beautiful summer Saturday and rode to the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia yesterday.

After bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches and coffee at BoJangle's, we hit the road at 9:15 and returned to Mike's house around 4:30 p.m., making it a relatively comfortable day trip.

Mike and I have been wanting to visit the D-Day Memorial since we participated in a Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) mission with D-Day veterans last June. We were honoring these men and women on the 70th anniversary of the English Channel crossing and invasion of France.

As I wrote in a blog back then, we escorted the elderly D-Day/World War II veterans along part of their route on the way to the National D-Day Memorial.

It's an outdoor activity

If you're planning to visit the D-Day Memorial, be aware that it's almost entirely outdoors. There are guided tours about every 45 minutes. The schedule for these tours is posted in the gift shop, which is also where the guided tours begin. There is no additonal charge for these tours, but as the memorial is privately funded, donations are much appreciated.

Also, remember that this is a memorial: please be respectful and leave your loud, hyper-active children at home. Kennels are available if you must bring your dog(s). Smoking and eating on the memorial grounds are prohibited.

Route Details

I planned the route based on recommendations from Google Maps. It's about 140 miles from Mike's house in Cary to the memorial in Bedford--by the shortest route. It turns out that shortest route, from the south, involves getting off US 29 at Altavista, Virginia and riding northwest on VA 43. VA 43 is a very scenic route with plenty of twisties to keep your attention focused on the road.

Bedford is located about 20 miles west of Lynchburg, Virginia, along US 460, where US 221 crosses. Bedford was chosen as the site of the memorial because of the high number of casulaties it experienced from the Normany Invasion.

Coming back, we got on US 460 east to Lynchburg and then US 29 south. It added another 20 miles or so to the distance, but it was more convenient as the entrance to 460 is right in front of the memorial. We would have had to search around for VA 43 if we wanted to return the way we arrived.

Features of the memorial

The memorial is broadly divided into three sections, corresponding to the planning, execution, and aftermath of the Channel crossing ("Operation Neptune") and invasion of Normandy ("Operation Overlord"):

  1. Reynolds Garden (Planning) - at the back of the site
  2. Gray Plaza & Beach Tableau - invasion itself
  3. Estes Plaza - celebration of triumph

We started with Estes Plaza and worked our way back. If you go, I recommend you start at the gift shop and go with a guided tour. If you choose to do the tour on your own, start in Reynolds Garden and work your way forward.

For more information...

For more information, go to the Wikipedia entry for the National Day-D Memorial.

Admission was $10 for adults, $8 for veterans and children. These prices are subject to change. You pay at the Bedford Welcome Center on Burks Hill Road and US 460.

As always, keep the shiny side up!

-The Long Rider


Riding the Pisgah Highway (US 276)

(August 11, 2015) Last weekend I took my new bike for its first out-of-town ride when I visited my wife in Hendersonville. We spent a great Saturday afternoon riding to Dupont State Forest (North Carolina) followed by a stop at YMCA Camp Greenville just across the state line in South Carolina. Sam wanted me to see a great view just past there but it was closed due to a wedding. What a great place to get married!

From there we rode US 276 into Brevard, NC and then into the Pisgah Forest. US 276, called the Pisgah Highway on the east side of the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP), climbs up to more than 5,000 feet as it crosses the Parkway. This beautiful, twisty road takes you past Looking Glass Falls and Slippery Rock.

On a hundred-degree day a couple of summers ago, I got to try Slippery Rock. The temperature dropped 10-15 degrees as we descended from the road down to Looking Glass Creek; and then, the water was quite chilly. No wonder so many people were lined up on the muddy path for their turn at sliding down a large wet rock into a deep swimming hole. It was so naturally refreshing.

On the west side of the BRP, US 276 changes names to Cruso Road as it takes you to the hamlet of Cruso, which sits along the banks of the Pigeon River. That's the same Pigeon River that flows out of eastern Tennessee. If you're feeling adventurous, turn left onto NC 215, Lake Logan Road. Sam and I experienced that route on the bike earlier this year. That was the first time I ever heated a Harley's brake pads enough to smell them! From now, I use engine braking on those steep descents.

This time, we turned right onto NC 110 and headed north into Canton, NC. We were hungry and looking for some dinner. On the other hand, Canton has a way of stifling one's appetite. As I noted several years ago when I rode all 100 counties of North Carolina, Canton is the stinkiest town in North Carolina. A large paper mill gives the place an aroma only the locals can appreciate.

We had a nice dinner in Asheville and headed into Hnedersonville for ice cream on Main Street. The bike performed flawlessly. It handles great, the engine delivers plenty of power where needed, and the sound system is something else.

I'm looking forward to many more rides in the future. Next up, I plan to ride to Allegheny State Park in New York for the Labor Day weekend.

Keep the shiny side up!

-The Long Rider


There's nothing like a brand new Harley

(August 3, 2015) I am really enjoying the new bike. It's going to take a couple of years or more for me to get it just the way I want it, but it's still pretty awesome as is. My favorite feature of the new bike is the smooth and powerful 103 cubic-inch engine. I'm very impressed by how it gets that big green beast moving so quickly; and even on the highway at 70 mph it's still ready to jump up to 80 or more if you need to pass.

Music made easy: Bluetooth to my iPhone

After several failed attempts, I got my iPhone 6 to connect via Bluetooth to the bike's audio system. I was able to listen to the different iTunes playlists I had created on my computer and downloaded to the phone. I took my mother for a ride yesterday and she appreciated the Big Band music I was able to play over the abundant sound system.


The headlights are very bright and white, as you can see in the photo at left. I have not tested them much in actual use, such as a dark country road. My only night riding so far has been suburban where there is plenty of ambient light to supplement the bike's lights. I have read some criticism of their inferiority when it comes to the range of these headlights. We shall see.

The LED fender lights front and back are surprsingly bright. I appreciate the extra visibility they offer. Speaking of lights...this model comes with an interesting button on the handle bar: you press it to flash your headlight to get the attention of oncominig traffic. It's a nice safety feature, if only I manage to remember it's there and practice using it.

As far as the rear lights go, the'yre OK. Fortunately, I swapped out the stock tail light on the new bike with my LED version on the old bike at the time of sale. It makes a huge difference in brightness and a significant reduction in power draw when the brake lights are applied.

As one fellow HOG member observered, I need to fill the holes between the rear fender and saddlebags. It turns out that Küryakyn makes LED lights to fill those holes...for a mere $199.

The other issue I can readily imagine is one or more of the LEDs on the Tour-Pak going out and driving me crazy as I struggle to decide how l long I should go before replacing the whole unit because of a single LED failure.

I need to check if they're covered by the warranty...Ah, the warranty...I haven't had one those on a bike since 2001. That may be my favorite aspect of owning a new bike, especially given what I went through with the Electra Glide these last several years.

Audio, Navigation, and Comm System

I've only just begun to learn the many electronics-based features of this bike. The big ones that remain are the Citizens Band (CB) radio and Navigation system. I also need to learn how to use the phone to communicate while on the bike, not simply use it to play music.

Upcoming Rides

I've got another 400 miles to go to complete the break-in phase. That's happen next weekend when I ride to Hendersonville to see my wife, daughter, and son-in-law.

I also plan to finally do the NC 16/VA 16 ride to Tazewell, Virginia, probably later this month or September. Over the Labor Day weekend, I plan to ride to Allegheny State Park in northern Pennsylvania. My sister and her family be camping there with their big RV and I hope to join them.

On the Pennsylvania ride, maybe I'll stop by the Flight 93 National Memorial along US 30 near US 219, just north of the town of Shanksville. I haven't been there yet. Time to start planning the route. :-)

Keep the shiny side up!

-The Long Rider


Bought a new bike

(July 27, 2015) I'm a rider. I have to ride to feel fully alive. Without a functioning bike, I have been feeling much less than fully alive these past four weeks. It became clear to me last Friday that I was desperate to make the pain end. As I test rode a new two-tone deep jade (on black), 2015 Harley-Davidson FLHTK Ultra Limited Special Edition touring motorcycle, I had found the remedy for my suffering.

If you've been reading my blog, you know how hard I tried to keep the Electra Glide going. I was devoted to her, slavishly so. I spent way too much money trying to keep her going. She was only nine years old, but at 110,856 miles, she was terminally ill. It's gonna take a while, but I do expect to get through the grieving process.

My new green machine goes a long way toward helping me forget the past and focus on what lies ahead.

I'll be the first to admit that Harley-Davidson motorcycles are very expensive and buying one is rarely based on rational thinking. My case is no exception. When I went into Rommel's Harley-Davidson in Durham to test ride a bike, I wasn't expecting to buy one that day. However, life can take unexpected turns--pun intended.

As I took the bike out on the dealer's recommended route, I missed a turn and ended up way out by Falls Lake. From there, I decided to go a little further and lo-and-behold, I came to NC50. I made a left and cruised through the little town of Creedmor and then west to Butner, and what was supposed to be a 12-15 mile, 20-30 minute test ride ended up being a 30-mile, one-hour tour through the countryside. I was hooked. (The 0.99% interest rate on the loan proved to be a key factor as well.)

Full disclosure here: this was not an impulse buy. I have wanted this model bike since Harley-Davidson began shipping it because it offers the Twin-Cooled™ High Output Twin Cam 103™ motor. The heads are liquid-cooled. That's something I've wanted for a long time.

I've also very badly wanted a model with the six-gallon gas tank and a six-speed transmission to give me greater range--critical on ride to Alaska. This bike, the FLHTK, has this and much more than my FLHTCI Electra Glide Classic. For example, it comes with a 6.25-inch touch screen display that allows me to access a variety of communication, information, and navigation tools.

I haven't managed to make the two connect yet, but in theory, I should be able to use my iPhone with the bike's headset via Bluetooth. In other words, I can monitor my phone for calls and play music from it wirelessly. That will be a topic for a later blog.

The sound system is great. I feel like I'm riding a giant boom box. My Electra Glide had a radio and CD/MP3 player, but this bike takes the sound experience to a whole 'nother level.

I am surprised and disappointed that Sirius/XM satellite radio did not come built in. At $500 for the module, I'll likely never get that service. I'm surprised Sirius doesn't offer a contract deal like the mobile phone companies do.

Among other improvements I like are the high-gloss black inner fairing. On the older models, such as my Electra Glide, the flat black would fade badly and turn almost white. It looked awful. I expect this to hold up much better in the sun.

I was surprised that the tail light was not an LED. Fortunately, I was able to swap the LED on my old bike with the new light before the dealership took possession of my old machine as a trade-in. (They gave me a whopping $3000 for it.)

My son-in-law likened the green speckled paint job to a bowling ball. Thanks buddy! He then nicknamed my beautiful new machine "The Hulk," as in The Incredible Hulk. He's used to smaller, off-road bikes and this big green machine looks huge by comparison. Me, I've gotten used to riding these beasts--though a Gold Wing still strikes me as over-the-top big.

I'm not naming her The Hulk. I'm thinking Em or Emma, as a variation on Emerald. I haven't named a bike since the early 80s when I called my Honda CM450C Jennifer. We'll see.

Now, I can get back to writing about rides rather than repairs! What a great feeling this is. I plan to make the best of what's left of summer and expect to have a great fall riding season. I've already connected the wiring for my heated jacket liner to the battery and this beauty has heated grips! Weather permitting, I plan to ride all winter as well. I have many miles to make up. :-)

As always, keep the shiny side up!

-The Long Rider

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